The Conservation Teen Scientist program (CTS) is a program developed by the Zoological Society of Florida to offer high school students valuable volunteer opportunities, while fulfilling the Zoo’s mission and enhancing the visitor experience through eco-literacy interpretation. CTS is an essential program that helps connect young visitors with conservation stewardship and represent the Zoo in local conservation involvement.

CTS team members increase their knowledge and awareness of wildlife conservation and education and develop useful skills that help the Zoo’s convey its conservation message to the visitors.  Zoo instructors teach the CTS participants about current conservation and environmental issues and how zoos are helping to promote eco-literacy. CTS team members convey the conservation awareness message to the Zoo visitors by using interpretative props and biofacts.  CTS team members also experience hands-on conservation fieldwork in regional locations.
Application materials for the training starting in January 2014 will be available in September 2013.

Benefits of the conservation teen scientist program

Benefits for the team members:

  • CTS provides team members with an education and life-skills program that stresses responsibility, determination, pride, teamwork, and stewardship of wildlife conservation and natural resources. Students acquire vast knowledge and experience in life skills, education, and conservation biology through classes and hands-on fieldwork experience.
  • The Education department staff develops and delivers the program through classes and field activities. Team members receive in depth knowledge of natural history, taxonomy and classification, animal behavior, wildlife conservation, and teaching and interpreting to audiences. Students will work alongside Zoo professionals and field scientists to acquire real life working skills. The Children’s Zoo staff trains team members on the appropriate protocol, enrichment, husbandry, and animal handling of the collection. Team members assist Children Zoo keepers with husbandry, enrichment, animal interactions, and interpretive talks. Team members attend 8 weekend training sessions during January through March.  Classes are held for 6 hours on Saturdays.  Students take weekly quizzes to ensure content knowledge and a final exam after completion of all 8 training sessions with a minimum score of 75% or higher.  The minimum score qualifies team members to work on Zoo grounds.
  • Fieldwork is held after the successful training of classes and experience of working on Zoo grounds. Team members visit regional areas such as the Everglades National Park, Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, and the Marine Lab in Key Largo, and work alongside scientists.
  • CTS team members are evaluated numerous times throughout the summer. Those CTS team members with successful evaluations are invited to remain active during the school year. Team members continue their work as Zoo ambassadors and participate in monthly meetings as well as weekend and holiday work.
  • The CTS curriculum helps develop leadership and public speaking skills, work ethics and teamwork by applying knowledge gained through the weekend classes and group work activities. Team members develop academic success while increasing their value to colleges and universities, employable organizations, and society as a whole by learning the essentials of preparing for college, creating a competitive resume, and using the knowledge and experience attained through CTS.
  • CTS provides ample opportunities to learn about the Zoo, have a good time and form friendships with peers sharing the same interest in conservation biology and education.

Benefits for Zoo Miami:

  • The Conservation Teen Scientists provide benefits to the Zoo by helping fulfill its mission statement. CTS team members apply their knowledge to interpret and engage our Zoo patrons in eco-literacy and therefore help provide an enriched visitor experience. Team members equipped with educational tools such as biofacts (bones, feathers, teeth, skins) and other props, interact with Zoo patrons. The Zoo visitor experience is therefore enhanced as it is taken to a higher and more intimate educational level.
  • CTS team members serve as peer role models in wildlife conservation and education. Through their interest and creativity, members are more likely to impact other youth in eco-literacy. This is essential in order to reach today’s youth with the Zoo’s conservation message.
  • Accompanied by Zoo Education Instructors, CTS team members represent the Zoo during off-site conservation fieldwork. The participants bring back a wealth of information, which is shared through interpretive experiences with Zoo visitors.
The deadline to submit all the application materials is November 22, 2013.